Salar Jung Museum is a warehouse of the artistic attainments of the varied European, Asian and Far Eastern countries of the world.
History of Salar Jung Museum
Mir Yusuf Ali Khan, popularly known as Salar Jung III, the Prime Minister of Mir Osman Ali Khan, the seventh Nizams of Hyderabad, collected most of the artefacts of the Salar Jung Museum. He also inherited some of the valuable items from his father Nawab Mir Laiq Khan Salar Jung II and his grand father Nawab Mir Turab Ali Khan, Sir Salar Jung I. In the year 1968 the museum was re-established, the Salar Jung Museum embodies a collection of rare items. The collection in the museum includes manuscripts including the illuminated Qurans and calligraphed classics.
Collection of Salar Jung Museum
There is also an outstanding collection of encrusted spice boxes, mirror backs, huqqas, archery rings, etc. The carpet section in the gallery contains the velvety metal thread carpets of Kashan, the Tree of life carpets from Kirman, the multi medallion and arabesque carpets of North Persia and others from Shiraz, Isfahan and Herrat. This museum of Hyderabad was inaugurated by Pt Jawaharlal Nehru on December 16 in 1951. The collections were then assorted in hurry and housed in Diwan Devdi, residence of Salar Jung. Government of India appointed a committee to look after the estate of Salar Jung after his death, as he had no direct descendents. In 1968, the valuable collections were moved to another place from the 100-year-old palace and the museum was declared open by Dr. Zakir Hussain. Even an act was passed in Parliament to declare it as an institution of national importance.
Galleries of Salar Jung Museum
The art galleries of Salar Jung Museum include raga-raginis in Deccan style, miniatures in Mewar, Arwar, Jaipur and Mughal styles: modern works from Chugatai, D P Rai Choudary, Tagore and Sharada Ukil; western master pieces from Landseer, Watts, Leighton, Cooper, landscapes by Turner and Constable; copies of Grand master’s works like Reubens, Raphel and Titan. The most interesting place in the Salar Jung Museum is the arms section. It includes bejeweled hits of swords and daggers, handles of jade, fishbone and ivory ornamented daggers with emeralds, diamonds, and rubies. Some other valuable items include many rare Arabic, Persian and Urdu manuscripts, priceless glass, metal ware, furniture, lacquer, etc., from Persia, Arabia, Syria, and Egypt, porcelain, bronze, enamel, lacquer ware, embroidery, painting, wood and inlay work from China, Japan, Tibet, Nepal and Thailand; water-colour paintings, Venetian glass, Sevres porcelain, English furniture, Greek sculptures, etc., are elegantly displayed in the several galleries of this museum. The visitors can spend hours and days in the Salar Museum by looking around the wonderful collections.
Sculptures in Salar Jung Museum
The rare things of the Salar Jung Museum include sculptures of ancient India like the Bharhut rail slab (1st or 2nd century B.C.), standing Buddha sculpture made of limestone from Nelakondapally (2nd or 3rd century A.D.), Mukhalinga from Kau-sambhi (4th or 5th century A.D.), Anathasayi Vishnu with the Dasavatara (ten incarnations) carved above (12th century A.D., Kakatiya, Warangal) and also numerous Jain, Buddhist and Hindu bronzes going back to later Pallava, Chola and Vijayanagara periods. Kalamkari work of exquisite workmanship, wooden sculptures, miniature paintings, miniature sculptures in ivory, jade, etc. also can be seen in this museum.
Library in Salar Jung Museum
The collections of the Salar Jung Museum are the marvellous combination of antiquity and modernity. It is the largest one-man collection museum in the world. It is said that the Salar Jung brought back a lot of the art wealth of the country from the metropolitan countries to enrich their collection. Some of the collections are of different civilisations and from different parts of the world. Few of the work of art even dates back to the first century. The Salar Museum has almost 43,000 art exhibits and 50, 000 books from all over the world. The people of that time say that the present collection is almost half of the original art wealth collected by Salar Jung III. As Salar Jung had no descendants, his staffs whom he depended a lot, stole many art pieces. Few of the art pieces were lost and many other items got lost from the museum during the shifting to present site.
Artefacts in Salar Jung Museum
The watch worthy items of Salar Jung museum include he sword of Aurangzeb, daggers belonging to empress Noor Jehan, emperors Jahangir and Shah Jahan, the turbans and chair of Tipu Sultan, furniture from Egypt, paintings etc. The world famous statue of Veiled Rebecca showing her beautiful face hazily visible through a marble but gossamer veil is one of the lovely collections. Another captivating monument is a double-figure wood sculpture done by G.H. Benzoni, an Italian sculptor, in 1876. It stands before a mirror and shows the facade of a nonchalant Mephistopheles and the image of a demure Margaretta in the mirror.
Clock room in Salar Jung Museum
Another place of interest is the Clock room. It has a collection of more than 300 clocks, specially a musical clock sold by Cook and Kelvy of England. The collection ranges from the very ancient clocks to the clocks of twentieth century. Few of the clocks are so small that magnifying glasses are needed to see them. These clocks are brought from places like France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Britain. The other galleries are dedicated to the Salar Jung families. There is a section dedicated to the children, other is a reference library and a part devoted to rare and ancient Arabic Urdu and Persian manuscripts, including a handwritten miniature Quran. The textile gallery consists of different Indian textile art in cotton, silk and wool, dominated by a collection of brocades woven with silver and gold thread and the world-famous Kashmiri shawls.
In a nutshell, the Salar Jung Museum of Hyderabad in Telangana is a standing monument and one can visit through the history by looking around the museum. The ticket fee for the Indian visitors is Rs. 10 per person and Rs. 150 for the foreigners. The museum remains open from 10 AM to 5 PM six days in a week except on Friday.